Nuns implicated in deaths of 800 children found in septic tank

Neglect and abuse: The Irish government is launching a criminal investigation into the discovery of 800 dead children found in the septic tank at a home for unwed mothers run by nuns in western Ireland.

Reports indicate the children were malnourished and neglected by the nuns, which is suspected of causing many of the premature and tragic deaths. Hundreds of infants and toddlers in a home for “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children are believed to have been buried in a septic tank next to the former home for single mothers and their children.

The home was run by Bon Secours nuns in Tuam between 1925 and 1961.

Ireland’s Roman Catholic Church has instructed the order of nuns who ran the home that it must co-operate with any inquiry into the investigation, according to the Reuters news agency.

Speaking in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday, the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, called the discovery of what is described as an unmarked grave as “deeply disturbing” and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been.

In the past, unmarried mothers and their children were incarcerated in state-funded, church-run institutions called mother and baby homes or Magdalene asylums, where the women worked to “atone for their sins,” while their children were taken from them.

Perhaps even more disturbing, this is probably not an isolated case. The home in Tuam was only one of a dozen mother and baby homes in Ireland in the years after the Second World War, all of which treated their inmates in a similar fashion.

It is hard to grasp the magnitude of the physical and psychological abuse the women and their children suffered at the hands of nuns determined to punish both mother and child for being party to a pregnancy not sanctioned by the church.

This sad episode is yet another reminder of the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children. The moral corruption of the Catholic Church is by now well documented. The Catholic brand is forever tarnished, reduced to a symbol of moral corruption and decay, a symbol of inhumanity, a symbol of broken and dead children.

Photo depicting a home for ‘fallen women’ and their children in Ireland.
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